Death of the internet in real time

I am doing this thing I should have done a while back and converting all Twitter embeds on this blog into blockquotes. It’s been more horrifying than you’d think.

I post a lot of thoughts, and sometimes some of these are inspired by thoughts from the Twitter braintrust.

Foolishly, I cited/quoted these tweets using an embed (basically using a coding pipeline to broadcast the original tweet, rather than a copy or screenshot), trusting in the lasting power of Twitter infrastructure. Like, if journalists can construct entire articles by embedding other people’s tweets and no writing of their own, then surely I’ll be fine… right????

Fast forward to the year 2023, when Twitter is now “formerly known as Twitter”, and people are deleting their accounts and archive in protest. Realising the vulnerability of the situation, I am slowly working to archive everything back to my website. (well, I had always been doing this, but I had also always been dawdling)

What I forgot to do was archive my embeds.

So here I am scrambling back 17 pages of blogging history to preserve my citations. Fortunately there wasn’t too many. Unfortunately… there was some damage that made me realise we live in an online hellscape and that I am maybe perhaps traumatised by linkrot.


A couple of tweets – really profound ideas – are gone. From Colleen Doran and a musician (@fatherrich_), whose real name I may never recover, who said something about how one’s relationship to art changes when it becomes income, the difficulty of a freelance life, how capitalism skews your enjoyment of art into instruments of clout, losing sight of your identity and original reason for being an artist.

Their exact words? Gone. Dead. Deleted.

In a way I am frustrated and annoyed, because this is knowledge, ideas, a personhood. Their words provoked my post on craft and making work that is for yourself. And I can’t give them proper credit anymore.

On the other hand, I can understand if somebody wants to delete their old tweets indiscriminately; afterall, on that site, a certain nuclear cleaning is necessary to protect oneself from bad faith actors. There are some spelunkers who go quite deep into Twitter archives to dig up an irrelevant careless tweet that someone wrote as a teen to cancel them now as an adult.

I have never done that because I hadn’t bothered, and I don’t think I have anything that’s worth bringing up other than xDD teenage rand0mNeSS!!! But it’s okay. Elon did it for me already (apparently a lot of tweets pre-2014 are broken).


You know how Twitter loves to prop itself up as the “public square of ideas” “the place where people discuss debate discourse” (or something to that effect)? Well, it’s impossible to do that when the structure is imploding and the culture is bad!! And it’s worse when you’re like me who wants to philosophise and navel-gaze on my island rather than the rowdy town square.

I have encountered linkrot during my time online, but I hadn’t been personally confronted by it in this way. It’s like watching something die in front of me. Like yeah, it’s dramatic to say this, but when the thing that is dead is a person’s ideas and the links to community, and their brief connection to my own thinking, it does provoke a kind of grief.

People say everything stays on the internet forever But more and more, as we all move away from the idealistic Eden of Web 1.0 into the fallen world, I don’t believe in that idea anymore. Or at least, I don’t believe it’s a universal truth. Dust in the wind.

I cannot imagine the anguish of journalists or readers or historians from the year 2030 who are accessing an article that is 90% Twitter embeds. Unbelievable. :/


For the tweets that hadn’t yet died and I could preserve:

Twitter threads is the worst way of writing down anything ever and I pity anyone who has to archive/convert it in another format.

And I can say this. I can say this now for the 30 tweets I had to convert into text (which is an essay by itself) for my blog. I can say this for the 100s of tweets documenting the process of making my graphic novels that I have to eventually preserve on my website.

In the halcyon days when we all believed that Twitter was forever, threading was such a fun and breezy way to post and share thinking/research/knowledge. But now… advice from veteran artists and authors and experts who posted everything on Twitter between its peak to its death and then quit are now nowhere to be found. (Not like it would have been easy to search for the thread anyway even if extant, not even in the original poster’s timeline.) Plus there’s almost no incentive for anyone who’s not as crazy as me to recover their own important tweets. So every thread is a ticking time bomb.

It’s kinda making me retroactively (and unfairly) annoyed at everyone who put their thoughts only in threads and not produce a copy elsewhere. I am angry at my Past Self for not making a blog version of my documentation while I was tweeting. I am miffed that I have to constantly be vigilant and preserve things, which would be fine, except there’s no simple way to preserve another person’s thought.

Thank god I had the foresight to have already transferred my more important text-only, industry-advice tweets to this blog. That’s one less project.


I need to fix up the design of my blockquotes. It’s quite ugly lol.

edit: fixed

Hello, hello

    • Kiri
    • October 13, 2023

    Twitter threads were the worst, hahahaha. I’ve definitely lamented a lot the idea that artists don’t think they have things to blog about but then they’re off posting 30-tweet threads of tutorials, advice, and deep wisdom.

    I started actively syncing and maintaining an archive of my tweets a few years ago (using Tweetnest), but while this serves as an okay historical tome of my tweets, it can’t preserve context and interactions. I’ve saved all my tweets, but many of them are replies to others, and there was no automated way to preserve those others. It’s a bummer.

    Linkrot has been a problem for a long time, but it’s just not practical for anyone to save everything themselves. Articles I link to, things I reference; sometimes they’re tweets, but even when they’re not — if you look at a post I wrote 10 years ago, most of the links are dead. I can only control the links that link back to me.

    This is actually one of the reasons I still haven’t deleted my Twitter outright, though there are some swaths of tweets missing from when I thought I should nuke what I could — and I regretted those deletions if only because it meant that some tweets about RSS and IndieWeb that got RTed a lot disappeared and now can’t be further shared, even if most of them were just pointing to the blog posts I wrote.

    But back in the day, I saved art I liked to my computer in folders for all of my fav artists. I saved my fav fics as html files to preserve them, in case their author ever decided to delete them for whatever reason. I got out of the habit, because there got to be so much art, so much writing — too much to save; it took too much time. These days, I’m finding that it’s probably worth the time. I can’t save everything, but I can save some stuff, at least.

    • Reply

      Re: artists not blogging things they tweet – omg same. I see the same thing happening on Bluesky now of people making huge giant threads reviewing their Shortbox Comics haul… except the thread format DOESN’T mechanically exist on Bluesky and there is no UI attached to the post that indicates that the post belongs to a larger thread… so it’s way worse!! And I am like – can’t yall put this in a blog??? Some of these people have websites!!!

      Regarding linkrot, I wonder if there should be a standardised protocol that professional writers and journalists and such could use to preserve digital/text-based primary source. The DOI system is already an attempt at this, assigning IDs to specific digital content, but the problem is that the DOI is basically a link redirect and still suffers from the risk of dead links. Same with whatever other people are trying to do with the blockchain.

      I fell off the habit of saving art I liked into my computer years ago… for some reason. I can’t even say that being on social media got rid of that need cos it’s not even easy to search up the images anyway. In fact it’s way worse than Deviantart.

    • cat
    • October 10, 2023

    losing ideas to the twitter void is the worse! i have realised a while ago i tend to dump a lot of world building ideas onto a private twitter since the thread format is indeed convenient (writing thoughts down fast as you’re thinking them) but i have taken to taking quick screenshots of the whole thread afterwards as they tend to get lost in the tweets that follow. curse endless scrolling in the archive

    • Reply

      It keeps happening!! Sometimes I really wish there was a notetaking app that was as convenient as Twitter and with search + archiving + tagging + categorising abilities.

  1. Reply

    I remember back when Buzzfeed would make whole articles that were just embeds of tumblr posts, and when tumblr users caught on to the fact that their posts were blatantly being used as a way for the media company to make money, they started editing those them to say “hey, pay me.” And not to mention the posts that were ultimately deleted because the poster nuked their blog, or were suspended, or tumblr Staff got rid of the original post for some arbitrary terms violation.

    I feel for you. I think about all the art resources I have compiled on my inspiration tumblr, and tumblr as a platform, well… she’s not looking so good.

    Link rot has always been an issue, but yeah with these platforms, it’s only gotten worse. The internet and the information on it has become like vapour.

    • Reply

      Oh yeah I remember this lol. It’s amazing just how willing we were constructing things out of smoke.

      With Tumblr at least it’s pretty easy to migrate the posts (Kiri has a whole post on their blog talking about moving their Tumblr archive to their site) relative to Twitter. It’s just the administrative effort of having to do it, or needing to do it at all.

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.

Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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